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Tips on Purchasing a Underwater Camera Housing

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Equinox Underwater Housings

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Ikelite Underwater Housings

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BigBlue Dive Lights

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Mozaik Housings Strobes and Lights

This is the online retailer I bought the housing from. They were knowledgeable and had great service. I would buy from them again.

Tips on Purchasing a Underwater Housing:
Review of the Equinox HD 6

By Ab Kurk

It is always exciting when you use your new Camera and housing for the first time. No matter how much or little experience you have it is always a surprise what the outcome is going to be. Every camera has its little quirks, their sweet spots and their issues, and figuring out how to use your housing and the placement of your lights and strobes is always a challenge.

 

This is why it is recommended that you learn the capabilities of your camera before you put it in an underwater housing and you add a whole new level of complexity on top. See how quickly it zooms what all the icons on the screen mean. The golden rule when using your new underwater housing for the first time is not to put the camera in it just to make sure that it does not leak.

 

I have been shooting underwater video for about 2 years now. I started my career with underwater video of sea lions using my canon S45 powershot camera. After that I was hooked and bought my fist video camera the HD JVC GZHD10U with an Ikelite housing and two Pro-V 8 video lights.

 

After a while I purchased a wide angle “Ikelite WD80”lens to be able to take video of larger items like dive buddies. While using the wide angle lens I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed more powerful video lights and bought a set of BigBlue Vl2x30 lights which were an amazing improvement.

 

As my abilities grew I noticed that the camera was holding me back because it has issues with image stabilization. The Stabilization system is required when zooming in on smaller critters. Any movement of your camera is really noticeable when zoomed in, this is why a good stabilization system is a must.

 

Kelp After long deliberation “ten minutes with a sales person” I went out and purchased me a new HD video camera “Canon VixiaHFS20”. I played with the camera for about 3 months while I was scoping out a new housing. When looking for a new housing I came to the realization that all the money I had sunk into my old housing “like the wide angel lens” was lost. Ikelite sold a suitable housing for my new camera but the WD80 was not suited for this housing.

 

Equinox HD6My research pointed me to the Equinox HD6 housing as the best solution for price and performance for my application. The housing will enable me to expand when needed. Equinox also provides the option for a fee to retool the housing if I choose to buy a different camera in the future which is a lot cheaper than having to replace everything.

 

When I took my new housing into the water I noticed the difference in size as the Equinox housing is a lot bigger, but the advantage of this was the difference in buoyancy. The Ikelite housing with the BigBlue video lights attached was so negatively buoyant that I had to use PVC pipes and blocks of foam to compensate for this. The Equinox housing is only slightly negative with the same lights which makes it a lot easier to handle.

 

The Equinox housing also has the option to install a little LCD screen to show what you are shooting. With the Ikelite housing I was always looking at the video camera screen on an angle, which does not always give you the best view on your subject.

Something completely not related to the brand of housing or camera is the different placement of the controls. Most of my first dive I was trying to push phantom buttons which is highly annoying as aquatic life normally does not pose for long periods of time.

 

Still I am happy with the results after my second dive with the system. The camera has a better image stabilisation system and the colours were a lot nicer. Below is the result of the dive.

 

 

Some things to consider

  • Purchase the best camera, housing, lenses, and lights your budget can afford. If you don’t you are going to spend a lot more money in the long run constantly upgrading.
  • Do as much research as you can. Speak with as many people you can. Talk to many different retailers before you make the decision. Price is not always the most important factor. Getting good service and knowable staff is important if later on you need to get this replacement part.
  • If possible do training with an experienced instructor as you will find out in a course what the questions are that you should ask. It will also tell you if this is something you want to pursue as it is a very time consuming hobby.
  • Always take your time when assembling your housing before a dive. If you rush the process you will forget something and not be able to use your camera underwater or in a worst case scenario create a fish tank. I have seen people rushing “and have done it myself” when putting their camera together, sometimes with catastrophic results.
  • Play as much as possible with your camera and housing before you take it into the water. Figure out how everything fits together and how most of the buttons work